Work on the house has been dragging on.  Mostly because my army of one is wearing down.

Newt took ReeRee for a couple days, so I could try to finish… something!  I like checking things off my list and so far I have an entire list of partially done projects.

To try to kill the boredom of mudding beads around the windows and doors, I brought my new Johnny Cash CD to the “new” house.

At first, I listened to all the songs.  Then I mixed it up with random selection.  Then I realized I how long I was mudding and how little I was getting done when the songs started over.

So I kept “Hurt” playing.  Over and over and over.  For a whole afternoon.  Time flies when you can’t tell how many hours you’ve been mudding trimwork.

I have a talent of listening to a song a million times and not remembering how it goes.  Then I wondered what the song is about-did Johnny beat his battle with cancer?  Or did his wife die?

I listened to the song so many times, I started guessing myself on the words.

So I looked up the lyrics and you will see, I was wrong about most of the song.

(originally by Nine Inch Nails-WHAT? 9 ” Nails, Johnny didn’t write the song!)

I hurt myself today (I shot myself in the hand with a staple gun, but that was last weekend)
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain (Yep, I must have hit a nerve with the staple.  The hand is a little tingly.)
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole (ouch)
The old familiar sting  (I hear ya, Johnny.  Had a few injections in my life…)
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything (The feel-good drugs haven’t kicked in yet)

What have I become
My sweetest friend (I thought it was “Swedish” friend for a while)
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt (Estate planning anyone?)
I will let you down (Sounds like Estate Planning or lack of)
I will make you hurt (Like the staple gun hurt?)

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair (I thought it was “wired” chair.  Again, I thought the song was about Johnny’s battle with cancer.  Nine Inch Nails ruined that thought.)
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair (But a good mudder can fix about any broken drywall hole.  Broken thoughts-no.)
Beneath the stains of time  (Who wrote this song?  It is so descriptive!)
The feelings disappear (Old hurts- gone.  Old people seem to mellow with age.)
You are someone else
I am still right here (Coming from the guy who just asked who he was a chorus ago… Either he is mental or the drugs via the needle sting kicked in.)

[Chorus again]

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

The CD player refused to play the next day.  I killed it with “Hurt”.

Categories: Home Remodel | Leave a comment

Plant of the Week- Needleandthread

Let’s continue on our journey of Plant ID with another cool-season, bunch grass.

This grass is a favorite among youngsters, especially if you have siblings.

Needleandthread seedheadYes, I’m talking about “Needleandthread”.  Those seeds with the long awns and sharp tip turn brown and harden as the summer progresses.

Most ranch kids remember riding through the pasture, reaching off their saddle, grabbing and grabbing until you had a nice handful of needleandthread seeds, and then loping past your brother (or sister).  If you were good (and they weren’t paying attention), you could get a perfect bulleyes of hundreds of “needles” stuck in the back of their shirt.

Of course, your siblings will retaliate and get even with you.  They might even gang up on you.  Do you take blow after blow of needles?  This is why you ride the fastest horse…to run away.

For the more mature rancher, needleandthread is an excellent source of protein and energy early in the spring.  So how do you tell if you have needleandthread without the seedhead?

It grows in a bunch.

It heads out in the spring- usually May.

It has a ligule.  This is the best way to tell.

Needleandthread liguleSee that paper-like thing sticking up?  That is called a “ligule”.  When you pull down the leaf blade, the paper rabbit ears stick out.

Ligule = Needleandthread.  (Of course other plants have ligules, but not very many.)

So go forth, and commence impaling your siblings with nature’s darts!

Categories: Plant of the Week, Ranching in the Sandhills | Leave a comment

A. Sprinkle Toes

We got a new puppy- like “last minute” got a new puppy.

If you know me, you know how much I love taking care of puppies (not) and making quick decisions (not, again).

After Buster got hit by a car, we are one cowdog short.  A neighbor called and told us about a litter of puppies that were $500 each and spoken for.  Then the husband passed away, and the family didn’t know who the puppies went to.  Now the pups are 4 months old and much cheaper.

So after a speaking engagement, I picked up the black-and-white border collie puppy the next day.  Karen, the owner, was nice enough to let me borrow her kennel to haul him home.

Newt was giving ReeRee a bath when I got home.  The pup wouldn’t come out of the cage, so I finished ReeRee’s bath, while he extracted a puppy.

“Did you and Daddy come up with a name for the new puppy?” I asked.

The towel was wrapped around her serious face… “Yes, Sprinkle Toes.”

Sprinkle ToesA picture of Newt loping across the pasture popped into my head.  He and his dogs were moving cows.  Newt points an arm to the back of the herd and shouts, “GET BY, SPRINKLE TOES!”  And all the other cowboys snicker…

So Daddy and ReeRee came to a compromise- First Name: Ace, Middle Name: Sprinkle Toes.

ReeRee loving up A. Sprinkle Toes

I think Mr. A. Sprinkle Toes likes it here.

Categories: Ranching in the Sandhills | Leave a comment

She Wears Pearls to AI

ReeRee and I went to help Newt AI the heifers and cows.

Newt and I dressed for the part, but ReeRee felt the need to show off some bling.

“She wore pearls to AI” sounds like the beginning of some cowboy poetry.

She Wears Pearls to AI ReeRee thought AIing was quite interesting.  If you have not heard of Artificial Insemination (or AI), then viewer discretion  is advised.

She talked the entire time and here are some highlights:

“It’s raining POOP!  There is pooop everywhere- it’s a poop storm!”

“MomMom, can you walk down with me?  Will that cow get me?”

Gives Newt an AI glove, “Now Daddy, put that on your fingers, in the finger holes, now here is the goo.  Go stick your hand in that cow’s butt.”

“Ahhh, it’s hot!” referring to the steaming empty container bubbling with liquid nitrogen.

Shhh, ReeRee.  The cows are coming in, pretend you are a post. “MomMom, I want to be a post that sits on your feet.  Hahaha, have you seen a post sit before?”  (So much for the still, silent post impersonation.)

“What?  We’re done.  I don’t want to go take a bath and go to bed!” followed by sleep deprived tears and tantrums.

Newt was glad to be finished.  He AIed 301 head in 8 days.  Another reason I can’t wait for our house to be finished- we can actually see him during AI season.

Categories: Ranching in the Sandhills | 2 Comments

Plant of the Week- Prairie Junegrass

Thank you to my loyal reader who reminded me it is summer and “Plant of the Week” should include some grasses.

Here is the first 2014 “Plant of the Week”.  I boycotted anything house remodeling related this week and got outside to take some grass pictures.

Prairie Junegrass is a bunchgrass, which means it only reproduces through seeds.  And it grows in a bunch.

Prairie JunegrassTrue to its name, Prairie Junegrass puts up seedheads in June.  These seedhead are pollinating, so they are bushy and yellow.  Once pollination is over, the seedheads will close up and turn a brownish-tan color.

This is a very hard plant for me to identify if there is not a seedhead.  The leaves are shorter, fleshy, and deeply veined.  No ligules or auricles or special color.

Prairie junegrass is tasty to cattle, so if a pasture is overgrazed you won’t see this plant, or at least just the leaves.

There are just a few cool-season grasses that cattle LOVE in the Sandhills.  They prefer to eat them before the seedhead comes out, when it is just leaves.  Prairie junegrass is one of them.  Needleandthread and western wheatgrass are the others.

Cool-season grasses like to grow during Warm Days and Cool Nights.  They also like water and need good spring rains (and previous fall rains) to take off.  We have had all three, so the junegrass is looking good this year.Size reference P JunegrassPrairie junegrass is a short grass.  Only knee high to a toddler.

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House Colors- which would you choose?

Unfortunately for our budget, we need a new roof and siding.

The color combinations are endless, but I narrowed it to 3 options, depending on the availability of the siding.

You have one week to vote!

Categories: Home Remodel | 1 Comment

Knock Down Panda Paw Texture

My friends, C & D, move a lot.  They also like to buy rundown old houses and fix them up.  Then when they move again, they rent them out.

I love their current home.  It is full of old wood trim, wood floors, and super-cool texture on the walls.  (I also like their bullnose trim, but let’s focus on texture today.)

Since my house does NOT have old, high quality character, I copied the texture on the wall.

Here is the technique for Panda-Paw Knock Down Texture.

First tape, mud with Durabond (because we used sticky tape, not the paper kind), sand-and-sand-and-sand (Durabond is very hard), apply a second coat of Sheetrock mud in the green bucket, sand, apply the third coat of green mud, and sand.

By now you are slightly crazy from all the mudding.  And your fingers hurt from the mud sucking out all the moisture in your skin.

Now mix up some “green” mud with some water.  It should be the consistency of toothpaste (the runny stuff that falls off your toothbrush and onto your freshly cleaned countertop).  Label your bucket as “texture mud”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is loose enough to drip off the mudding knife, but sticky enough to hold onto a wall.

Fill a container with the texturing mud.  Grab your clean Panda Paw.  (I kept calling it the Panda Butt.  Maybe you can see why…)

Clean paw

Now dip, ever so gently, the Panda Paw into the texturing mud.

Dip your Panda Paw in the texture mud- just a little bit on the edges.

Dip your Panda Paw in the texture mud- just a little bit on the edges.


Make sure the wall has 3 coats of mud and has been sanded.

Make sure the wall has 3 coats of mud and has been sanded.

Now WHACK the wall!

Now WHACK the wall!

Most of the YouTube videos I’ve seen on Panda Paw-ing, they stop here.  You have one impression of the paw on the wall.

That is not how C&D taught me.  Keep whacking until the coat of mud is even.

Continue to move the mud around, so an even coat remains.

Continue to move the mud around, so an even coat remains.

The texture is quite rough (and wet at this stage).  Now you have to wait for the mud to dry to the perfect consistency.

When the mud is dry to the touch, but still wet enough to dent with your finger, grab a trowel and WHACK the mud for the “knock down”.

This will flatten the mud, so your walls have a smoother texture that will be easier to clean.

I do not have pictures of the knock down, as all the mud seems to dry at once.  I was knocking down like a mad man and only realized when I was done, I forgot pictures.  (The hazards of working by yourself with no camera man.)

If the mud still too wet, your trowel will become smeared.  Too dry and the mud doesn’t smack down at all.

Since we put up new drywall and primed/taped over the old sheetrock with “wallpaper” on it, the two surfaces dry at different rates.  The vinyl wallpaper takes FOREVER for mud to dry. However, the seams where I taped and mudded don’t.

I finally gave up waiting for the texture to dry on the vinyl.  I will sand the rough spots out when the burnout is over.

I am going to wait until the next hot day when the inside of the house is 100 degrees and texture the old vinyl drywall.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

(Note: Clean your tools and bucket immediately with clean water.  Once the mud dries, it is NO fun to clean off.)


Categories: Home Remodel | 1 Comment

Cow on Grass

We have had several (yes- several) days of rain.

Our pastures went from dry and crackly to wet and saturated.

I love saturated.  When you live in a place with porous sandy soil above a giant underground lake (call the aquifer), there is never too much rain.

True, our roads are completely washed out, I worry about the old roof on our “new” house leaking, and the wet dog looks pitiful.

But the soil is saturated- I love saturated.  Post holes will be easy to dig, the grass will take off and grow, the cows will be fat and happy.

Cow on Grass

This cow looks happy, her belly full of nearly mature cool-season grasses and nibbles of young warm season tillers.

Categories: Ranching in the Sandhills | Leave a comment

Burn out and Blocks

If you have Type 1 diabetes, you realize the cycle of the disease.

Sometimes diabetes runs you over like a Mack truck.  Other times it is the slow, constant nagging and care of the disease, but everyone experiences burnout.

After constant weekend warrior work on the “new” house, a tad bit of sickness, and looking over the edge of “diabetes burnout”, I’ve lost interest.  I left the house early on Saturday, even though the cement guys were there, and I had to finish texturing the last wall of the kitchen.

I was just too tired and sick of it all.  I also didn’t take a bloodtest for most of the day.

I felt like I hit a brick wall…

Finished blockwork(Yes, I am asking you to stand on your head.  I have resaved, re-rotated, and tried everything under the sun on this photo, so please practice your handstands while viewing this picture.)

I should feel great that our block has been laid, but there isn’t even a smidge of excitement in me.

I blame running into the brick wall.  And this stupid picture is the last straw…

Categories: Diabetes- Type 1, Home Remodel | Leave a comment

First rose of the season

I saw my first prairie rose driving to work.

Think of the most wonderful meal you have ever eaten, the most beautiful painting you every saw… that is what roses do to your sense of smell.

Just look at those colors!  The rose ranges from pale pink to hot pink.

Just look at those colors! The rose ranges from pale pink to hot pink.

It is the most wonderful, hypnotic smell in the world.

Categories: Plant of the Week | 1 Comment

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